The other day, I was talking with someone about how many of my friends skew older. A consequence of being the youngest at work, at home, and at varied extra curriculars, I’ve become accustomed to being with people older than myself. Growing up with two older brothers, I made reference to how I skipped Mr. Roger’s and Sesame Street and jumped straight to Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers. I joke that I relate best to guys 4 -7 years older than myself.
I often find myself relaying stories related to my work at camps (both for elementary school students and high school students) and at the all-dementia nursing home I spent one summer at. You see, I love working with little kids and I love spending time with the elderly, but have always taken a kind of shrug/whatever attitude about my own generation.
But that’s exactly the thing. I’m allowed to joke about people my own age. You’re not. We’ve all been there. You can tell your best friend they’re an idiot, but with that subtle understanding that they are your idiot and that you love them to death and that if anyone else said anything bad about them...
I’ve noticed more and more recently that people have been telling me how un-Millennial like I am. I’m an “old soul” or I’m “not like other people my age.” And I used to leave those conversations quite pleased with myself. But why? I’ve been thinking about this for a while and here’s the conclusion I’ve come to:
A similar conversation has been happening for years in another area. The “you’re not like most girls” conversation. Listen up: you hating on my sisters does not make you more attractive to me. You don’t have to tear them down to lift me up.
Breaking us up by “chill girls” or “lots of makeup girls” or “tomboy girls” or “gamer girls” or whatever else does nothing but divides us by preconceived notions. Did you ever think that someone could be a swirling mix of all of the above? Two young artists named Ellie Lee and Tara Anand created an Instagram account called “IAmLikeOtherGirls” where they illustrate submissions from women across the globe with their token tagline. Examples include: “I’m a geek and I am like other girls” or “I wear Gucci and I am like other girls.” It’s a strong phrase for unity.
I think this shift in perspective can apply to the age divide as well.
I love turning my phone off early and reading in bed and I am like other people my age. I like taking pictures of my food when I make a nice meal and there are other Millennials like me. I don’t drink and I am like other Millennials.
I guess it comes down to one simple principle: I’ll respect you if you respect me. And I’m asking you to respect me by respecting all of me. All of my peers. My roommates. My friends. Those of us who have non-traditional jobs or families or lifestyles. All of us.
Because when I tell you I’m 23, that should be the end of the conversation. It shouldn’t come with an apology, a caveat, or an explanation. And it certainly shouldn’t come with an attitude that takes away anything from the thousands of other Millennials who are just like me.